In the superyacht industry, the role of a designer falls far beyond the ‘design’ remit. Typically working in such close proximity to the owner, the role tends to morph into an ‘ego manager’, rather than a designer in the traditional sense of the word, and that is something all designers should be congratulated for - if they have managed to master the tricks of the trade.

“You can be a great designer, but one of the real skills is people management,” says Evan K Marshall, in a recent interview for The Superyacht Report.

Retrospectively, I can’t think of one designer I’ve interviewed that doesn’t have a fascinating anecdote about managing the ‘lively personalities’ that they encounter during a superyacht project. It shouldn’t be taken lightly either, while some may be more jovial, some accounts verge on horrific and quite disturbing.

But, there is a limit, encapsulated nicely by an anonymous designer who said to me recently, ‘There comes a fine line between who you are as a person and what you believe in - and then what you are willing to give to the project.’

Design requires you to truly understand who your client is on a personal level. So, during a project, most superyacht designers will be there for the arguments, tears and tantrums and be expected to carry on as if everything were fine. It’s a vital skill, which has become a crucial element of design, and I think, deserves some recognition.

Design requires you to truly understand who your client is on a personal level. So, during a project, most superyacht designers will be there for the arguments, tears and tantrums and be expected to carry on as if everything were fine. It’s a vital skill, which has become a crucial element of design, and I think, deserves some recognition.

“Sometimes you will be at the table and [the owners] will be having an argument,” continues Marshall. “You dread the moment where they turn to you and say ‘what do you think?’ But I enjoy it because that is the intimacy that we become a part of.”

“Ultimately, we are lifestyle designers. So, whether it’s a yacht, plane or a private residence, we have to understand the lifestyle and get underneath the skin of how that client and their family is using that environment and deliver it,” says Selina McCabe of Winch Design. “You may not agree with it but once you understand that, the process is so much easier.”

There is an art to managing personalities and it’s one that extends far beyond the design remit and should never be underestimated. But from the conversations that I’ve had with a number of designers, this is what it takes to really deliver on a project and something that is an increasingly large part of the job.

 


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